Hospital Dr News

Telemedicine requires better regulation

Telemedicine should be regulated like all other forms of medicine and should meet the same safety standards, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has said.

Patients are currently unprotected under current UK regulations from mistakes made by telemedicine practitioners.

In a position statement, the Academy said that the Care Quality Commission should require all providers of medical services to ensure they can verify the qualifications and registration status of every doctor providing medical services to UK patients, wherever that doctor is located.

Telemedicine is the rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred through interactive audiovisual media for the purposes of consultation, diagnosis and care when the provider and patient are separated by distance. Concerns have been voiced about the accountability of practitioners when they’re based outside the UK.

The Academy believes the verification of practitioners’ skills should include an individual assessment of their revalidation requirements.

Furthermore, all doctors providing services to UK patients, whether locally or remotely, should be registered with the GMC. Ultimately this should be a legal requirement, it says.

The Academy statement continues: “Healthcare providers should not rely on contractual arrangements between telemedicine companies and their employees, nor on indemnity provided by these companies, to guarantee the quality of patient care.

“Patients should be made aware if part of their care is devolved to a doctor working outside the UK. However, the UK-based healthcare provider who commissions a telemedicine-based service must remain legally liable for any damage that may arise as a result of poor medical care, whether delivered conventionally or by telemedicine. The UK-based healthcare provider must not be allowed to devolve this responsibility to a telemedicine provider.”

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3 Responses to “Telemedicine requires better regulation”

  1. Dr Zorro says:

    The whole concept of telemedicine is appalling

    http://vulpesmax.blogspot.com/2010/06/telehealth-jargon.html

  2. SonoView says:

    This is the outcome of a long campaign by people such as Dr Richard Fitzgerald (Radiologist, Wolverhampton) and others including the HCSA and the RCR. It is a huge anomaly that, while we are every more intensely regulated, teleradiologists at “Scans-R-Us” wherever in the world can outbid others for the lowest costs, but are regulated by no one.

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